It’s been a while since I’ve allowed everyone into my stream of consciousness in a list format. This post is spontaneous in its prose, so bear with me. Hopefully, you laugh, learn something new, and ponder all things soccer, fitness, and business.
Here we go:
1.) Agility ladders aren’t all bad.
I used to be on the “anti ladder” bandwagon, but only in terms of speed development. Here’s what you need to know: ladders will NOT get an athlete faster because they don’t help with exerting force into the ground, which is a major component of speed.
However, they do serve a purpose, especially for young age groups learning mechanics, coordination, and body control. I love how ladders have a fixed point of where kids need to move their bodies to. Plus, kids think they look cool which makes them more fun.
I’d also be remiss not to point out that ladders help kids to learn “athletic stance” so they’re able to move laterally quicker. Especially in the game of soccer, this stance is critical for tight space dribbling, defending, and getting into open space off the ball.
2.) Strength training doesn’t make you slow.
Increased muscular strength = increased power output. Physiologically, it’s impossible to slow down in the name of strength.
3.) However, strength will slow you down when…
You ONLY train strength. Speed has plenty of buckets that need to be filled: strength, power, mechanics, stride length, stride rate, eccentric/concentric training. If you only focus on filling one bucket, then your speed will make minimal improvements.
4.) Game of Thrones season 7 tonight.
Sorry, had to.
5.) Female athletes can improve their pull ups.
After we perform pull up evals on our female athletes at JDyer Strength and Conditioning, 99% of them say they feel they’ll never improve their max.
With proper training and consistency, girls are extremely capable of being upper body pulling badasses. But please keep in mind: in order to see major improvements, they must be training their pull ups 2-3x a week, with the proper accessory movements.
This is just one example of one of our girls who went from 0 pull ups on her eval to 4 bodyweight, and 1 pull up with 25 pounds on the weigh belt. Science is pretty cool, and we have been working at this for a couple months 2x a week.
If you want to learn more on how to improve pull ups, I wrote an article on the topic here. It’s kind of a dissertation, but certainly worth the read. ;-O
6.) Time-based conditioning isn’t always the answer.
Want to hear about the crazy shit I used to do? Time-based conditioning. Run a few gassers, 150, 200 and 300 yard shuttles with a set recovery time, send the athletes home, and question my existence.
Recently, I’ve gone further away from time-based conditioning because every athlete I work with in a group will have a different level of fitness. Some girls may recover quicker than others and will be ready to perform their run again quickly. Give these girls my set rest time and tell them to wait longer (even though they’re ready to go), and they may not be pushed as hard as they can from a physiological and energy systems standpoint.
Then, you have the other girls who NEED longer rest time than what I’m giving. These girls will struggle performing the conditioning and their bodies may resort to poor running mechanics.
7.) In other words, heart rate monitoring allows me to see into someone’s soul and condition SMART. ;-O
I encourage all of my athletes to invest in a heart rate monitor. The one I prefer is the Polar H10, which goes for about $70-80.
8.) Balance training doesn’t always have to be on a BOSU.
In rehabilitative settings, the BOSU can be an effective tool for training proprioception. However, it need not be the only way.
Single leg strength training is another thing to sprinkle into training.
Again, balance, just like speed, can be thought of in buckets. Fill all the buckets of balance – strength, stability, proprioception – and you’re good.
9.) Time off from primary sport is a good thing.
If a child plays soccer, chances are, they’re playing year round, except maybe in the summer. The summer is an excellent time to recharge, put the ball away for a couple weeks to a month, and enjoy being a kid. Go to the pool, hunt Pokemon, try a recreational sport that ISN’T your primary sport, ANYTHING.
Coming back refreshed and ready to go for the true competitive season is key. This will prevent burnout and overtraining.
10.) You must train your mind as much as you train your body.
The mental component of sport is critical if you want to improve the physical aspect. If you’re practicing 3-4x a week, then you must train your mind that much.
These could be things as little as writing down affirmations, performing visualization exercises, and practicing meditation.
Some great resources on sports and behavioral psychology:
11.) Over-coaching does more bad than good.
Hearing a coach over-coach is like nails on a chalkboard. There’s nothing worse than walking up to the barbell to deadlift, only to hear your coach instruct, “Okay, chest out, head up, butt back, feet on the ground, eyes straight ahead, think happy thoughts and unicorns.”
More often than not spitting out too many coaching cues proves counterproductive. We confuse our athletes with too much stimulation.
Instead, try to focus on 1-2 glaring things that need to be fixed off the bat. These could be things that address the athlete’s safety FIRST.
Then, as the athlete starts to own the movement and you build rapport with them, you can certainly begin to get picky.
As an example, for a complex movement like the Turkish Get Up, I taught Brenna in small steps. We focused on the lift-off first, then the hip bridge. It wasn’t until about week 2 that we addressed the “windshield wiper” of the rear leg and the end point.
This video is only from 3 weeks into learning the movement, and now that she has the basics down, I can get into pickiness like packing the shoulder, maintaining proper breathing, squeezing the glutes in the top position, and looking elegant and like you have your shit together. ;-P
12.) It’s okay to increase your training rates.
A year ago, I increased my training rates by $5, which isn’t a lot. All of my clients and athletes were okay with the increase, except for one.
This one client decided to go find “other options.” Alas, it was a shame because I had been with them for 3 years and helped their daughter get on the top soccer team in her age group. We had a great relationship, went out to lunch together, and I supported the girl at several of her games.
$5 ended the deal though.
My initial reaction.
However, after much thought, I have increased the value of my services over the past several years. Not only have I evolved as a coach, attended continuing education conferences, and pulled my hair out getting my graduate degree in Exercise Science, I’ve developed an insatiable desire to innovate my sessions, and provide players with the latest experience and evidence-based training.
As long as your product quality has increased, it’s more than okay to increase your price, especially if you communicate with people the new value of your services.
Also, supply and demand plays a role too, and I’d be lying if I said basic microeconomics have been on my side to be able to increase price. Just saying.
13.) Fire clients who no longer serve you.
I won’t speak much on this, but you can read my latest post Is It Okay to Fire A Client here.
Spoiler alert: Yes, it’s okay.
14.) Take advantage of social media.
Social media is great way to give others a peep into your personality and services. Plus, it’s free advertising.
So use it. Don’t be a moron.
15.) Engage with your audience.
Just because you post stuff to social media, doesn’t mean you’re done. It’s critical to stay engaged with your audience, so you can answer their questions and discuss new ideas.
Engagement is key to building rapport as well as a following.
16.) Communicate expectations off the bat.
Communication is key when telling athletes and parents what to expect from your program. If you expect people show up early, let them know. Last thing you want is to be pissed people are showing up late because you didn’t communicate properly.
17.) Repetition is the mother of learning skills.
Muscle memory governs skill work. Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Even at age 27, I’m still performing basic technical drills so my neuromuscular connections stay sharp. Never stop technical work.
18.) Periodization matters only if there is consistency.
A strength and conditioning coach can have the most perfectly designed program and periodization model, but it won’t be effective unless there is consistency.
19.) Blogging matters.
After two years, I’m still blogging. And all of the big name strength coaches in the industry, who’ve been at it for 10 years, are too.
Blogging allows you to create content and to provide others with new information and a plethora of ideas. Better yet, you’re able to showcase your personality and get yourself out there.
For me, I’ve been able to connect with hundreds of people and be my authentic, nerdy, Lord of the Rings fanatic self.
20.) …Only if there is consistency.
Blogging doesn’t matter unless you stay consistent. Stick to posting articles 1-2x a week, or at the very least, posting to social media 1-2x a week to stay engaged with your followers.
21.) I’m making too much sense.
22.) Expect little from others, but a lot from yourself.
Always do your best, and give more to others than others give to you.
23.) Lean into fear.
Seriously. Do what makes you the most scared.
Because the reality is, you can never eliminate fear from your life. You can only understand it, and then face it head on.
And sometimes, leaning into scariest things makes you a stronger person.
24.) Do your best to “prevent” injury with what you’re given.
There is no way to fully prevent injury, but we can do our best to reduce the chance through proprioception, strength training, conditioning, mobility/stability work, and managing sleep and stress levels. There’s so much that goes into the injury prevention pie, but we do our best to fill it with as many of these ingredients as possible.
25.) Have a planned warm up for your athletes.
Athletes who are most ready for competition and who have the least likely chance to get injured, execute a proper warm up.
At JDyer Strength and Conditoning, we have a novel of a warm up written on our board that our athletes must memorize forward and backward.
I do the same for my soccer clients. Here’s the document I expect them to have in hand or memorized before each session:
26.) The process is the pleasure. Nothing comes overnight.
Athletic development is a process, and expecting a child to get better overnight is going against every concept of exercise physiology.
It takes time to develop strength. It takes time to learn proper mechanics. It takes time to program neuromuscular connections. It takes time to increase power output. It takes time to improve the stretch shortening cycle. It takes time to get better at pull ups.
But you know what? The process of working hard day in and day out over weeks and months, is the pleasure. That’s the good stuff right there. Easy overnight bullshit is for the weak and people who want a quick fix in life. Don’t be weak.
27.) Be innovative, but stick to the basics.
For coaches and trainers, it’s cool to innovative progressions to exercises, but always stick to the basics: carry, push, pull, lunge, squat, hinge, crawling, stability, etc. to ensure your athletes are being challenged, but still getting everything they need.
28.) Make everything a competition for young ones.
Creating a competitive environment will help athletes to level up, while still having fun.
Over the past several years, I’ve noticed with younger age groups, EVERYTHING should be a competition. It’s the best way to keep them engaged in the training.
One of my best coaching moments EVER:
29.) Lighten up and make training fun at times.
Strength and conditioning and soccer training should focus on building better athletes, as well as teaching discipline. However, it’s okay to incorporate some fun at times to balance things out.
30.) Enjoy yourself.
You, as the coach, should also enjoy yourself. Lighten up, have fun, and enjoy the journey. Life is too short to take yourself and your job too seriously. So go help some athletes, have fun, and call it a day.